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Also check out Taylor’s excellent guest post on our site.
In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Juratyrant
- The name Juratyrant means “Jurassic Tyrant”
- Juratyrant was a small tyrannosaurid, only about 3 meters long, from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation of Dorset, England, in 1984
- Juratyrant was a small predator, and existed before larger tyrannosaurids. But it’s not clear what they looked like or how they lived
- Juratyrant was classified as its own species based on a partial skeleton, which included a complete pelvis, leg, neck, back, and tail vertebrae
- But Juratyrant skull and forelimbs have not yet been found
- Juratyrant was mentioned in several papers but was not formally described until 2008
- In 2008, paleontologist Roger Benson wrote about Juratyrant but he thought it was part of the genus Stokesosaurus. So Juratyrant was originally called Juratyrant langhami, after Peter Langham, who discovered the bones
- Later studies found Juratyrant may not have been a close relative of Stokesosaurus clevelandi
- In 2013 Benson and Stephen Brusatte reclassified Juratyrant langhami as its own species; it kept the name laghami because that was its original species name
- Juratyrant probably ate smaller dinosaurs, juveniles of larger dinosaurs, and small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians; it probably had feathers
- Juratyrant weighed about 500 pounds, a moderate size, and probably had a long, narrow skull
- Until recently, not many tyrannosaurs were found in England (usually associated with North America and Asia)
- The first tyrannosaur in England was discovered in 2001; it is called Eotyrannus (name means “Dawn Tyrant” and it was fast and lightweight, with long arms
- Juratyrant was part of the family Proceratosauridae, which lived in the middle Jurassic to early Cretaceous
- Proceratosauridae was first named in 2010 by Oliver Rauhut and his colleagues, when they reevalusated the genus Proceratosaurus
- Proceratosaurus was a genus of small theropod carnivores that lived in England; it’s considered to be a coeluroaur (more closely related to birds than carnosaurs) and a tyrannosauroid
- Proceratosaurus was also most closely related to the Chinese tyrannosauroid, Guanlong (means “Crowned Drago”)
- Fun fact: To identify a new species, scientists only need one dinosaur skeleton (either complete or partial). Nearly half of the approximately 1200 named dinosaurs have been identified based on only one skeleton.
For those who may prefer reading, see below for our interview with Taylor McCoy:
Sabrina: So now we will go to our interview with Taylor McCoy who is the creator of the Weebly website, Everything Dinosaurs. Although he is not a paleontologist, he is a dino enthusiast like us and he has his own fossil collection. How did you get into dinosaurs?
Taylor McCoy: It all started when I was a little kid growing up, it was always something that I loved. Watching Jurassic Park when I was a kid, really fed that. As I got older, it was just something that I continued into and fell a little deeper into it once I got a better understanding of how they were.
Sabrina: So, did you research things on your own? How did you get a better understanding?
Taylor McCoy: My curiosity was really peaked with dinosaurs, so I just started reading books and looking at different websites, watched those kinds of documentaries, which really helped my understanding grow.
Sabrina: What kind of documentaries or books would you recommend to people who might be starting out?
Taylor McCoy: One of my personal favorites, as far as documentaries go is, When Dinosaurs Roamed America. It was a Discovery one. It seemed very accurate to me, things like the Raptors being feathered and the T-rex is hunting in family packs, it always kind of gave a good idea of how they lived and how they died in cases. Animation as well.
Sabrina: So then at some point, you decided to create your own website, Everything Dinosaurs. How did you come up with that?
Taylor McCoy: Friends of mine actually and something completely unrelated, kind of just showed me the source for Weebly.com and I thought to myself that, that would be a good way to get my voice heard in the world of paleontology. I looked into it and I thought, it was free, it was quick and easy, so I decided to go for it. It turned out really well in the end.
Sabrina: It’s a great site.It is a really great resource for anyone looking for any kind of specific dinosaur.
Taylor McCoy: Thank you.
Sabrina: So you [02:00] said you had, how many, 151 species up there right now? Is that right?
Taylor McCoy: The hundred and fifty-first was just added not too long ago.
Sabrina: That’s great. Are you planning to post about every dinosaur species discovered?
Taylor McCoy: As many as I can get at least.
Sabrina: So, how do you find out information and put everything together in a post?
Taylor McCoy: Usually I will try to think back to what I have learned about it in the past and what knowledge I have accumulated on that particular species. Then I will go into a little more research online or in books, just to kind of refresh my memory, maybe help me remember things I forgot about at one point or maybe learned something new that they just recently discovered about a certain animal. Then I will go and kind of put that all together and I will put that on the website for the page.
Sabrina: Do you ever talk to paleontologists?
Taylor McCoy: I do on occasion. I was lucky enough to speak with Peter Larson, Jack Horner and Phil Currie via email before and I talked to them a little bit about dinosaurs and it was all very enriching.
Sabrina: Do they contribute to your site?
Taylor McCoy: I have mentioned it to them, they have visited before and they all said that it was very impressive and very professional looking. So it helps me know that I am doing a good job with it.
Sabrina: How often do you update and add new species?
Taylor McCoy: It can be a little random sometimes, but I definitely try to make sure that it doesn’t go too long between new additions. Every couple of weeks maybe and then I will get a new one up.
Sabrina: What are some of the most popular dinosaurs on the site Everything Dinosaurs?
Taylor McCoy: T-rex is definitely the most popularly visited by far. Simply because it is the most famous dinosaur out there. If you go to a website about dinosaurs, you always got to look for the T-rex page and see what it says on it.
Sabrina: I know you mentioned that you have some radical theories on T-rex, what are some of those theories?
Taylor McCoy: Probably the biggest one is, my theory that T-rex isn’t actually the largest of all theropods. [04:00] Something that has kind of been a subject of controversy whenever the discoveries of Giganotosaurus and the rediscovery of when the Spinosaurus came to life. People started thinking that maybe there are dinosaurs bigger than T-rex, but I had thought that myself. After a while, I started thinking to myself, well maybe we should revisit T-rex a little bit and see if that is really the case and I started drawing some different conclusions.
Sabrina: That it was larger?
Taylor McCoy: I do believe that Spinosaurus at least, maybe Giganotosaurus as well were longer on average and maybe a little taller, but math is really what it comes down to when determining which animal is larger than the other. To me, T-rex seems to have the greater mass.
Sabrina: Could you elaborate more on how you came up with these conclusions?
Taylor McCoy: Well, I was noticing a trend with Giganotosaurus and Spinosaurus; these are animals that were obviously very large, but overall seemed lightly built, especially in the skull. They have long skulls, but they weren’t very heavily built. T-rex’s skull wasn’t nearly as long, but it was very heavily built, very robust and in a way it is kind of like an anaconda versus a crocodile or as far as that goes. The anaconda will be twice the length in some cases, but maybe half the weight. I was noticing a similar trend with these animals.
Sabrina: So I know officially you are not a paleontologist, this is more of a passionate hobby, but do you ever go on digs?
Taylor McCoy: Personal ones you could say.I have gone to locations that I know fossils can be found; I will go and look around.I actually have a big trip planned this summer to go cross-country and some sites are on the list, including the [Grayden River 05:50] out west.I wouldn’t mind looking out there for something.
Sabrina: I know you have a fossil collection. Can you talk a little bit about it?
Taylor McCoy: Yes, [06:00] for that, maybe it was one of those things that again started when I was a kid, I would get a fossil from my parents as a little present, a little fish fossil or something. Over the years it really grew. I think I am at 40-50 fossils that include a few replicas I have acquired as well. I have gotten them through a bunch of different means, whether I just purchased them or found them myself and really took off.
Sabrina: Ok, so your fossil collection includes dinosaurs as well as other things.
Taylor McCoy: A little bit of everything.
Sabrina: A little bit of everything. What are some of your favorites?
Taylor McCoy: I have a Megalodon tooth that I had purchased when I was little. It has always been one of my favorites. It is in pretty decent shape, which is always nice. I also have some whale vertebrae that I am pretty proud of.
Sabrina: Do you have any favorite dinosaur ones?
Taylor McCoy: I have a Spinosaurus tooth and I definitely have grown attached to that one. It is just a little one, but I have always enjoyed it.
Sabrina: How did you find that one?
Taylor McCoy: Actually, there is a store out in the outer banks in North Carolina that I have been to many of times, because I know that they have a lot of fossils there. Every time I go down there, I make sure to take a visit and see what they’ve got.
Sabrina: How do you find most of the fossils? Are you able to purchase them at different places or have you actually stumbled upon them on a walk or something?
Taylor McCoy: It varies. Museums will often have them in gift shops; I always like to see what they have in their collection. Online is a good place, I always get a lot of replicas from certain websites and I have a link to it on my site called prehistoricstore.com. They have a lot of very good quality fossil replicas. They have a few real ones as well, but really I will just keep an out for them at different places and then like I said, if I am in a place where I know fossils can be found, [08:00] I will keep an eye out and dig around a little bit and hope I get lucky. It is a lot of luck in some cases.
Sabrina: So you mentioned that you have visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History a lot. What is there to see for dinosaur enthusiast?
Taylor McCoy: It is a really good museum to see. If I am correct, they have the largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs anywhere in the world and I think maybe the third larges collection of dinosaur fossils in the United States. So there is a great variety there, a lot of familiar faces like T-rex, Triceratops and some that people may not have heard of, like Ceratosaurus and Dryosaurus. One of my favorite displays that they have is in a scene of two Tyrannosaurus facing off against each other over [? 08:47] of Montesauraus and one of the T-rex’s is actually the holotype specimen, one of the first ones ever found. Specimen number CAM903080, in a very impressive display. The T-rex skeleton for the hollow type is actually one that you will see a lot online. The Wikipedia page for T-rex uses the same picture as that specimen. There is a very large collection. There is also a little window, in I think the paleontology lab that you can look in and watch scientists work on some fossils. It is very impressive.
Sabrina: You mentioned a few other places that you are planning this great cross-country trip and everything. What are some of the sites that you would recommend people who love dinosaurs should see if they get a chance?
Taylor McCoy: I would definitely recommend Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. I plan on going out there while I am out. It is a very impressive, lots of Jurassic dinosaurs, if you want to see some of them. Also, you want to go to the Chicago Field Museum and see Sue, the most complete T-rex ever found. It is kind of at the top of my radar right now. I really want to see that one. Of course you have to go to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, [10:00] that is probably the most famous museum in the world and they have a very nice collection of dinosaurs. In a way, you could call it the old school way, where they are not in an environment as if they were living. They are all posed accurately, but it is kind of the old school style of just lining up the bones and it is pretty cool in that way, in my opinion.
Sabrina: Interesting. So the new school is more…how is that different?
Taylor McCoy: In a way, like the display at the Carnegie that I mentioned, where you see two Tyrannosaurus facing off, there are plants around them and an environment that would have been similar to what they were living in more like a picture of the past in the display.
Sabrina: You mentioned Jurassic Park earlier, what are your thoughts on the Jurassic World movie?
Taylor McCoy: I for one am very excited to see how it goes down. I think it is going to be very fun to watch and I know some people re a little bombed that the dinosaurs won’t be feathered, because they wanted Jurassic Park to take on a more accurate look. I thought to myself that we have to keep in mind it is a science fiction movie, its not supposed to be a documentary. So I am fine with scaly dinosaurs as far as that goes.
Sabrina: What about the hybrid dinosaurs, like the Stegasaratops?
Taylor McCoy: As far as I know, that is just a toy for the Hasbro toy line, but the one that they are making for the movie, the Indominus Rex I believe is what it is called, that one certainly looks interesting to me.
Sabrina: How do you feel about them combining two different dinosaurs?
Taylor McCoy: I think it is creative. I don’t think it is an idea that most people would have thought of. So if they can do it right, I think it can be very cool and very impressive, even though there is a bit of a risk involved.
Sabrina: Yes, that is true, but I know also circling around, what was it? Make your own theropod? That hashtag and people have been putting together different crazy hybrids [12:00] kind of. I don’t know if they were upset about the one in Jurassic World or just for their own creative purposes.
Taylor McCoy: I think as far as being their own creative purposes, it is a pretty good idea how to show your own creativity and see what you can come up with. I think that is what they were kind of doing in Jurassic World. If they are just angry about it then, that is just their problem.
Sabrina: So Everything Dinosaurs also has a Google + community, how do you get people involved?
Taylor McCoy: I just make sure that the community keeps running. I make sure I post things about Everything Dinosaurs updates and maybe new dinosaur news and then people take note of that and think to themselves, I can be involved too, I can make my voice heard. Some people do and I have seen a lot of cool posts from members of the community. I like to make sure that I always +1 the comments on them and let them know that I appreciate their taking part.
Sabrina: People who may not have visited your site before. What can they expect to find on Everything Dinosaurs?
Taylor McCoy: It is very easy to navigate, so they shouldn’t have any trouble as far as that goes, they can find it. It is more general information. Kind of a starting point for people. It doesn’t go too in depth, but it covers a good scope of things. So that helps them get a good jumping point, they can go from there. They will see things from dinosaurs to non-dinosaurs. What they won’t find are animals that lived before and after dinosaurs. I know some sites will show Megaladon or wooly mammoths and that is important too, but Everything Dinosaurs to me, is more about dinosaurs and who they lived with as well, their contemporaries. It is a very Mesozoic site. If I were to say anything else, I would say, for all the people out there who love dinosaurs keep digging; there is always more to learn.
Sabrina: Great. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me [14:00] today.
Taylor McCoy: No problem, thanks for having me.